Similar to asbestos, fibreglass has a reputation as a material utilised in the construction of structures and products despite its potential toxicity to humans. As its name implies, fibreglass is composed of glass fibres. It is utilised as an insulator and for reinforcing plastics, so it can be found in roofing, furnace filters, plumbing supplies, fishing rods, and surfboards.
However, unlike asbestos, fibreglass is manufactured and has not been conclusively linked to diseases such as cancer. It has the same strands or fibres, performs well as a composite material, and is an irritant, thus it is comparable. If you have worked with it before, you understand what we mean. These thin, pointed fibres can penetrate the skin, producing contact dermatitis, and when a fibreglass-based material is shattered or cut, the expelled particles contain small glass dust that can affect respiration. Additionally, membranes in the mouth, nose, and eyes are vulnerable to these particles.
But what happens when these particles adhere to clothing? People who work with fibreglass on a daily basis must discard their work garments, but is there a method to restore them?
Fibreglass in Clothing
When fibreglass fibres penetrate clothing, they protrude in various directions and irritate the skin. Even after removing clothing, the skin may remain itchy, red, and sensitive for hours or days. Protective coveralls or inexpensive clothing purchased with the idea of discarding it at the conclusion of a job are choices, but just as it is easy to carefully remove fibres from your skin, it is often OK to preserve and reuse your clothing.
Choose loose-fitting shirts and jeans so that the fibreglass does not penetrate the fabric directly and irritate the skin. A looser fit will also prevent glass shards from penetrating the fabric as deeply because there will be less tension between the skin and clothing.
Tips for Getting Rid of Fiberglass in Your Clothing
In their mandated material safety data sheets (MSDS), many companies that work with fibreglass materials recommend that clothing be washed separately and in warm water until all fibres are gone. However, there are no precise recommendations for soaps or detergents and cleaning techniques. Before washing, forums recommend using boar’s hair or other brushes with coarse bristles to remove some of the strands. Others suggest using strips of tape or other adhesives to remove the particles before placing the garments in the washing machine. After completing a load of laundry, the majority of sources recommend thoroughly scrubbing and rinsing the washing machine itself.
How clean and free of fibreglass you can get your clothes depends on how deeply you were buried in the shattered fibres. Many tasks require dealing with composite materials, which are tight and have minimal fibre shedding, so a standard wash cycle or two may be sufficient to prepare your garments for the next project.